Published: 2016-12-23

The future physicians of United Arab Emirates: how do they self-medicate?

Syed Ilyas Shehnaz, Nelofer Khan, Jayadevan Sreedharan, Mohamed Arifulla


Background: Health professions have been a predictive factor for self-medication (SM). SM practices of medical students, the future practitioners will have a bearing on their impending professional practice. The aims were to identify prevalence and practice of SM among the medical students of Gulf Medical University (GMU), United Arab Emirates and to assess the associating factors.

Methods: The study was planned as a cross-sectional descriptive survey among 247 medical students of GMU. Students from 1st to 5th year were included in the study. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 19. Associations were tested with Chi-square test.

Results: SM with both over-the-counter medications and prescription-only medicines was practiced by 65% of students. The prevalence of SM was associated with the year of study and age. The most common sources of drugs were private pharmacies and stocks at home. The students mostly relied on themselves and parents for drug selection. The self-reliance significantly increased with year of study. Common indications for SM were headache and flu symptoms and correspondingly, analgesics and antipyretics were frequently used. A high prevalence of misuse of antibiotics was also reported. SM was 2.9 times higher (95% CI=1.502-5.620) among students belonging to families practicing SM.

Conclusion: The study revealed a fairly high rate of prevalence of SM among the medical students of GMU, which was associated with age and year of study. There is a need to emphasize responsible SM practices among the medical students by accentuating rational drug use in the curricula.


Medical students, Self-medication, Prevalence, United Arab Emirates

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